Addressing the social emotional needs of children in chronic poverty: A pilot of the Journey of Hope

Tara M. Powell, Jordan P. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Children who live in rural poverty face numerous hardships and are at a high risk of experiencing complex trauma such as abuse, neglect, and/or community violence. Given this risk, these young people are disproportionately affected by psychosocial difficulties. School-based trauma-informed interventions are one way to reach children who are at high risk of experiencing complex trauma. These programs target problem behaviors, such as emotional and behavioral dysregulation, that stem from adverse childhood experiences such as family violence and/or prolonged neglect. Objective: This study examined a pilot of the Junior (JJoH) and Elementary (EJoH) Journey of Hope school-based intervention in rural, high-poverty public elementary schools in Tennessee. Methods: The Junior and Elementary Journey of Hope was employed using a case series design with children pre-K-3rd grade who attended afterschool programs in four elementary schools in rural Tennessee. The sample for the study included children who received consent/assent and participated in the program (N = 112). To examine change over time, the Strengths and Difficulties Scale and the Child Behavior Scale were completed by teachers at three time points (baseline, post-intervention, and six-month follow-up). Results: Repeated measures ANOVA revealed mean differences between time points for conduct problems F (1, 111) = 0.6.65, p =.02, hyperactivity F (1, 111) = 8.48, p =.04 and peer prosocial behaviors F (1, 111) = 5.01, p =.01. This trend, however, did not remain significant from post-intervention to six-month follow-up. Conclusions: Our study found that while child behaviors and well-being improved when participating in the JJoH and EJoH, once the intervention was removed, children returned to baseline levels of functioning within six months. Future studies should consider incorporating additional sessions and supplemental parent and teacher education to amplify the impact of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-327
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Mar 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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